KnuckleTracks #88

1) RUSSELL ALLEN - 'Seasons Of Insanity' 4:20; from Atomic Soul (InsideOut Music)
Symphony X singer Russell Allen has hatched a helluva surprise here, turning in a bluesy, '70s-rocking album that sounds like heavy Bad Company crossed with Four Horsemen, Badlands and Mk III-era Deep Purple. Warm and frankly stunning vocally start to finish, Atomic Soul will be talked about for years to come. or

2) NILE - 'Lashed To The Slave Stick' 4:20; from Annihilation Of The Wicked (Relapse)
Legendary US death kings Nile return after a mysterious and eerily long absence with a record worthy of their peerless and pure name. The technicality, rock solid cold logic and production professionalism you've grown to expect from this band is all here, frying in flames. or

3) ICARUS WITCH - 'Winds Of Atlantis' 3:06; from Roses On White Lace (Magick)
There are two bands reviving the dark spirit of Mercyful Fate: Force Of Evil and now Icarus Witch, a mysterious US-based act that seem to have time-traveled back to the perfection of that band and early King Diamond, distressing, foreboding esoterica included. Quite simply, this is stirring, timeless old school power metal with the best production of the '00s thus far. or

4) FORCE OF EVIL - 'Black Empire' 5:11; from Black Empire (Escapi/Screaming Ferret)
Sprung from the ashes of Mercyful Fate and King Diamond, Force Of Evil are now onto record two, offering an aggressive take on traditional power metal unsurprisingly professional, dark and dead-set convincing. Axemen Hank Shermann and Michael Denner have never sounded more venomous. or or

5) WEDNESDAY 13 - 'I Walked With A Zombie' 3:43; from Transylvania 90210 (Roadrunner)
Murderdolls lead singer Wednesday 13 has taken it upon himself to keep the immensely successful, camp horror-fueled Murderdolls franchise alive and roarin' while Joey Jordison continues his run of flame fame with Slipknot. The result is freaky and faithful to the concept and a blood-filled blast to boot! or

6) HAMMERFALL - 'Blood Bound' 3:49; from Chapter V: Unbent, Unbroken, Unbowed (Nuclear Blast)
Hammerfall have suffered all the slings and arrows. But that's what you get being innovators, the kings of power metal, the flashpoint for the whole movement. Chapter V will have the band's huge fanbase singing to the glory of metal once more, and Oscar and crew have triumphed yet again. or

7) SENTENCED - 'May Today Become The Day' 4:02; from The Funeral Album (Century Media)
Finnish suicide rock legends have announced their demise - after this record and tour that is. And what a fitting way to go, The Funeral Album offering those mournful melodies we've grown to love, coupled with sardonic humour and catchy but tough dark rock riffs perfect for headbangin' the wake. or

8) MESHUGGAH - 'Dehumanization' 2:54; from Catch Thirty-Three (Nuclear Blast)
Swedish triumphant death-defiers Meshuggah have come up with one mass of music - (sort of) a single 47-minute track - that houses in one manic package all that is mesmerizing about this most revered of progressive death acts. More accessible than you'd think, Catch Thirty-Three is an angled feast of strong music designed to smash your rhythm centres. or

9) SLOUGH FEG - 'I Will Kill You/You Will Die' 3:50; from Atavism (Cruz Del Sur)
One of the most irresistibly creative bands out there, Slough Feg have returned with a very Celtic, British, Maiden-manic album filled with exploration and wonder. Heavy, fast, literary and chock full of the unexpected, Atavism is a trip through mystical Britain housed in regal metal for miles. or

10) WINTER SOLSTICE - 'Watcher' 4:01; from The Fall Of Rome (Metal Blade)
Caustic to the extreme yet unswervingly technical, this hardcore-steeped band has created a thrilling melodic death metal album that bows to no wimpy trends - this is pedal to the metal start to finish, even if lyrically, the band expertly draws a chilling parallel between Rome's demise and the situation in America.

11) SOTHIS - 'Hypocrisy' 5:03; from Sothis (Sothis)
Sothis is a symphonic black metal band from LA that arguably kicks Cradle's and Dimmu's butts in all departments. This song, along with three others, can be downloaded for free in MP3 format from their site. If you find Sothis worthy of your support, their limited edition digipak MCD can be purchased from the site ($8) postpaid to anywhere in the world. Contact: POB 63212, Los Angeles CA 90063, ph. 562-862-9140, or

12) DIRTY AMERICANS - 'Strange Generation' 3:43; from Strange Generation (Liquor And Poker)
If you liked Alice Cooper's last album, not to mention his early stuff, you'll dig this power-chorded garagey Detroit rock outfit, track after track on Strange Sensation filled with a virulent mix of punk, glam and heavy metal, shots all around, beer chaser. or

13) EXTOL - 'Pearl' 2:55; from The Blueprint Dives (Century Media)
Warning: the album as a whole is a lot bloody heavier, more manic and blasting than this track - but just as lush, creative, supra-intelligent, fiercely original. Extol are a rare act in today's trend-jumping world, combining heady progressive elements with various high-test thrashes, stark inspiration every few seconds. Magnificent. or

14) EVERGREY - 'More Than Ever' 5:17; from A Night To Remember (InsideOut Music)
Sweden's most cherished progressive metal act Evergrey have gathered their vast legion of loyal fans through their electrifying live shows, and this swelling, surging, doomy double live album, recorded in their beloved homeland, demonstrates why the live show has hooked so many serious headbangers to Evergrey's web of mystery metal. or

15 ) ANTIQUUS - 'Empire Rising' 4:27; from Ramayana (Antiquus)
One of the greatest unsigned pieces we've ever received, Ramayana is a near indescribable pageant of very heavy power metal reminiscent in magnetism to Slough Feg or Hammers Of Misfortune. Not since the first three Fates Warnings albums has progression and doom and proto-power met so forcefully. Includes a massive, half-hour six-part Sri Lanka-based epic. Incredible. Contact: Andrew Bak, #C205 - 4831 53rd St., Delta BC V4K 2Z3, or

16) BRAND NEW SIN - 'Black And Blue' 3:16; from Recipe For Disaster (Century Media)
Brand New Sin are one of America's most exciting and damn near perfect metal bands, bowing to no trends, writing classic purist metal anthems that somehow manage vitality but through timeless toolings. With a southern swagger and a Pantera-like intensity, Brand New Sin are set to slay all comers in the summer of '05. or

17) EXPLOSIVE RAGE DISORDER - 'Thread The Needle' 3:25; from The Strong Violent Type (Explosive Rage Disorder)
Now in their eight year, Victoria's Explosive Rage Disorder continue to make universal, accomplished metal addressing a number of heavy genres, emerging with records of maturity, hook, a perfect amount and placement of melody, bracing performances and innovative song construct. Contact: 2578 Wentwich Rd., Victoria BC V9B 3N4, ph. 250-478-0145,, or

18) NOVEMBERS DOOM - 'Swallowed By The Moon' 5:57; from The Pale Haunt Departure (The End)
Majestic, expansive, exquisitely recorded... Novembers Doom are without a doubt the most ambitious and triumphant atmospheric doom band on the planet. Mixed by Dan Swano and mastered by James Murphy, this fifth record from the band is a leaden masterpiece., or